How can I change my child’s last name?

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How can I change my child’s last name?

My 6 year old son has a hyphenated last name (first my last name, then his father’s). He has not seen his father since he was 2 months old, nor has he received any support since then. The father and I were never married. At one point I had an order of protection from the father due to abuse, which I didn’t renew because I was scared to see him. Currently my son stays with my parents while I go to school upstate, so technically I live in a different county from my son. At his school they call him by his last name from the hyphenated name (his father’)s and he doesn’t like it. How can I change his name? Should I wait until I finish school to change it?

Asked on June 12, 2011 under Family Law, New York

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The decision to change his name from a hyphenated name to something else should probably be discussed when he is of an age to truly appreciate the meaning and consequences thereof. Here is the deal: at 6 years of age, most court do not consider this sufficient self-awareness to understand a whole lot. But again this is a personal decision. Should you decide to move forward with a name change now, understand the implications. Everything has to be changed, from passports to social security cards, to how it will show up as an alias on his credit report to yes his school records and the potential for mistake. If it bother him so much, consider a less expensive route. Put your thoughts and wishes in writing and talk to the school Principal and his teachers about he is to be addressed and not by solely the second part of the last name.


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